No, The Gulf Oil Spill Is NOT Old News → Washingtons Blog
No, The Gulf Oil Spill Is NOT Old News - Washingtons Blog

Friday, April 15, 2011

No, The Gulf Oil Spill Is NOT Old News

While the Japanese nuclear crisis might upstage the Gulf crisis, it hasn't gone away.

As the Wall Street Journal notes today:

Vladimir Uiba, head of Russia’s Federal Medical-Biological Agency… compared the contamination of seawater by the Fukushima complex with an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by BP PLC last year, and said, “The BP oil spill has caused far more serious impact on the environment than the Fukushima accident" ....

Whether or not the oil spill is worse than Fukushima or not, it was - and still is - a major disaster.

Gulf residents are still getting sick, the number of dolphins and whales killed by the spill appears to be many times higher than officials previously believed. Dead turtles are washing up in Mississippi. And see these photos from my favorite photographer, Julie Dermansky:

And just-released confidential BP and government emails confirm my previous posts showing:
  • The government is keeping scientists away from "ground zero" of the oil spill and - for that reason - scientists cannot accurately measure the size of the oil spill
  • BP and the government famously declared that most of the oil had disappeared, when it hadn't

As the Guardian reports today:

BP officials tried to take control of a $500m fund pledged by the oil company for independent research into the consequences of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster, it has emerged.

Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show BP officials openly discussing how to influence the work of scientists supported by the fund, which was created by the oil company in May last year.

Russell Putt, a BP environmental expert, wrote in an email to colleagues on 24 June 2010: "Can we 'direct' GRI [Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative] funding to a specific study (as we now see the governor's offices trying to do)? What influence do we have over the vessels/equipment driving the studies vs the questions?".

The email was obtained by Greenpeace and shared with the Guardian.

The documents are expected to reinforce fears voiced by scientists that BP has too much leverage over studies into the impact of last year's oil disaster.

Those concerns go far beyond academic interest into the impact of the spill. BP faces billions in fines and penalties, and possible criminal charges arising from the disaster. Its total liability will depend in part on a final account produced by scientists on how much oil entered the gulf from its blown-out well, and the damage done to marine life and coastal areas in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The oil company disputes the government estimate that 4.1m barrels of oil entered the gulf.


Kert Davies, Greenpeace US research director, said the oil company had crossed a line. "It's outrageous to see these BP executives discussing how they might manipulate the science programme," Davies said. "Their motivation last summer is abundantly clear. They wanted control of the science."

The $500m fund, which is to be awarded over the next decade, is by far the biggest potential source of support to scientists hoping to establish what happened to the oil.

A number of scientists had earlier expressed concerns that BP would attempt to point scientists to convenient areas of study – or try to suppress research that did not suit its business.


Another email, written by Karen Ragoonanan-Jalim, a BP environmental officer based in Trinidad [says] "Discussions around GRI and whether or not BP can influence this long-term research programme ($500m) to undertake the studies we believe will be useful in terms of understanding the fate and effects of the oil on the environment, eg can we steer the research in support of restoration ecology?"

And as the Guardian notes, it wasn't just BP which was doing the spinning:

Other documents obtained by Greenpeace suggest that the politics of oil spill science was not confined to BP. The White House clashed with officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last summer when drafting the administration's account of what has happened to the spilled oil.

On 4 August, Jane Lubchenco, the NOAA administrator, demanded that the White House issue a correction after it claimed that the "vast majority" of BP oil was gone from the Gulf.

A few days earlier, Lisa Jackson, the head of the EPA, and her deputy, Bob Perciasepe, had also objected to the White House estimates of the amount of oil dispersed in the gulf. "These calculations are extremely rough estimates yet when they are put into the press, which we want to happen, they will take on a life of their own," Perciasepe wrote.

And because nothing has really changed, it is likely to happen again.

Hat tip: Majia's Blog.


  1. Environmental impact on the US maybe. There are large areas of Japan that are more than 30km away from the reactor that have soil cs-137 levels that exceed the values that permanently shut down land around chernobyl.

    Compare these Chernobyl vs. official Fukushima readings.

  2. The saddest part of the Gulf Oil disaster is that there still is no oil spill response system in place to contain and remove the oil from the water before it reaches land.

    If there were another oil disaster tomorrow, they would start spraying dispersant again. Wait, what makes us believe that BP has ever quit spraying dispersant at the disaster site or that the leaks were ever contained! No one knows because of the open secrecy and cover-up.

    Why is that? Is everyone distracted by the $500 million to study the effects of the oil disaster? (We really can’t call it “oil spill” because no one knows if the oil is not continuing to gush out. – It’s a Big Secret)

    There is oil disaster response and recovery equipment in the North Sea to contain an oil spill and to reclaim the oil by separating the oil from the sea water BEFORE it reaches land. Why isn’t the Gulf of Mexico as well protected and equipped? Why? Because the Banksters and Big Oil are too cheap and they own Congress, branches of government and the President!

    The USA has become a Third World Banana Republic of brainwashed goons who accept their doomed destiny without a fight; Americans make such perfect dupes and victims. It’s easy, secrecy and lies and a controlled mass media agenda of spin and diversion from the truth.

  3. "I saw you walking by today"

    It's been a long while now since I felt pain. It was the first time I saw mama and daddy panic . We tried to swim away, but the black was all around us. Sorrowful cries filled the waters of our home. It was dark for so long...and we swam as far as we could. I got so tired. It was weird, not being able to breathe in deep. There were smaller areas of this blackness before, but we had always been able to find a way out. This time was so different. It even smelled different, a strange sweet yet bitter sting to it.

    Other families were slipping farther behind us. We passed a funeral, it was so sad. The youngest was drowned, I never got to meet her. She looked about my age. Daddy went over and nudged the other daddy, they cried together a moment as the little one fell deeper and deeper until I couldnt see her anymore. Later Daddy explained that this is the way of death for our kind.

    I was scared. There were many big things swimming above us and other odd shapes that seemed to float in the space over them. A red glow kept flashing off to the west. Mama nudged me, she sensed my confusion and wanted to help. She said those big things were called ships or boats, I didnt understand the difference though, only that some were louder. It hurt my ears. That's when the burning started, first my eyes, then my mouth. Those ships were doing something to the water.

    Light from Father Sun was trying to reach us, I couldn't feel His warmth though. Suddenly there were tiny fish swimming all around us. I was so hungry! I caught a few, it was really easy, they didn't even try to get away! This new food tasted awful! It made my belly hurt. Mama was mad at me, she said I should have waited until we got to our regular food...I didnt know better. I'm just a kid! I just wanted to go to sleep.

    I saw mama and daddy crying. My whole family was there too. They were swimming all around me. I was still so tired and I couldnt stay awake. I watched through sleepy eyes as they rose higher and higher above me, until I couldn't see them any more.

    I saw you walking by today. You stopped and looked at my former body and you cried. Your camera looked at me and blinked. I thought I would be able to tell you what happened to me, but your human form still cannot hear my voice. I wish you could find my Mom and tell her I am ok. Some of my friends are here with me. I even found my Auntie and cousins. It is a beautiful place, this new waters, with plenty of food...still, I miss my family. I want my life back.

    © Lana Duncan 3/27/2011

  4. If someone has some recent news exposing sickness updates along the Gulf coast please leave a COMMENT on my blog anywhere so I can post it up.

    I have friends in Florida that have told me there are isolated cases of people having strange lesions and also blood in their stool.

    Something very concerning still lurks in that area after such a catastrophic underwater volcano of gushing oil.

    If you go to The Weather Channel and play some of their videos I notice they have some very Hollywood like actors depicting all life is normal along the Gulf now and everyone is happy and swimming, fishing, etc. I find this hard to believe as I have talked to a man from Tiki Island in Texas that will no long fish or even boat in the Gulf and he said it smells to even be outside.

    Thank you. The News UNIT Blogspot.

    The News UNIT Blogspot

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Curious of how many, Ive had the blood since October and havent been in the water since. I gagged everyday prior til I could not hold my breath anymore. Looking at $ lobster and couldnt hold my breath to catch em, was my life underwater. Throat has been ok since stopping but pinpoint headaches, lots behind my eyes and ear trouble, like I have mites or fleas it feels and more dity wax everyday. Never had any of this prior and I knew the water was bad by the color, tar mats at the dock, oceanside (in Aug) and in the bay offshore. We saw milk water alot but always thought I was bulletproof, now sick and broke. Thanks BP! oh and we are 90 miles from Cuba~

  7. Simply another glaring flaw in our antiquated capitalist system. For profit and environmental concern cannot exist together.

  8. I think that the comparison is not helpful. It feels like we're getting several loud and clear messages from Mother Earth. The first message is that the downslope of the oil curve is going to be a rough ride, and will be ultimately really destructive to lots of ecosystems. We're trying to exploit areas that are at the very edges of our technical expertise and this is a big problem, as this behavior all but guarantees more problems down the line.

    The second message is that nuclear power is not the answer for our energy needs either, as it can make large portions of the earth uninhabitable for generations. When we solve our problems today by passing off amazing risks for tomorrow to deal with, we are not being responsible stakeholders of the present.

    The third message is that we're all connected through our oceans. Our oceans are already very stressed based on our exploitation of them, and our continual pollution of them. We have a giant swirling morass of plastic in the Pacific simply because we have yet to understand that our waste and our decisions en masse have consequences for all life.

  9. What we have been anxiously awaiting...this song began the day after Steve Bartlett attended the PGI event in Seattle back in November. We've been working on the recording and video since January. Stay tuned for coming release dates of availability on itunes and other download sites!
    A portion from the sales of this song will go toward the relief effort on the Gulf Coast
    It's Not Over - The Gulf Oil Spill Disaster Continues


→ Thank you for contributing to the conversation by commenting. We try to read all of the comments (but don't always have the time).

→ If you write a long comment, please use paragraph breaks. Otherwise, no one will read it. Many people still won't read it, so shorter is usually better (but it's your choice).

→ The following types of comments will be deleted if we happen to see them:

-- Comments that criticize any class of people as a whole, especially when based on an attribute they don't have control over

-- Comments that explicitly call for violence

→ Because we do not read all of the comments, I am not responsible for any unlawful or distasteful comments.